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Thread: My love/hate relationship with Phantasy Star 3 (Rant. Long read. Spoilers inside)

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert RvR's Avatar
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    Default My love/hate relationship with Phantasy Star 3 (Rant. Long read. Spoilers inside)

    Hey friends,

    I recently finished PhS3 for the first time, though I first played it long ago. I have very mixed feelings about the game and this is basically because when I first played the game years ago I found the encounter rate too high and I got stuck at a cryptic part, but everything else about the game I absolutely loved. You can probably imagine how frustrating it was for me to get really into the game and its story only to be forced to quit over halfway thru the game by the problems I mentioned. I've been playing RPGs my whole life and this is the only game this has ever happened to me with one, because usually if an RPG is still fun after a few hours I will play it to completion. I loved the story, the music, and the overall presentation of the game, so was it really flawed enough to challenge all these positives? Well let me explain my experience.

    The exact part I got stuck at was on the Ayn path. Once I rescued Thea I took her to her father as she instructed, and Lyle just says "the twin ruby lets you go to Landen." Usually this game is really good at giving fair hints, but this is really not enough information for what it expects you to do next. So I went to Landen and all the towns are empty because of the monster attacks. At this point it would be entirely reasonable to think the ruby is for something later in the game and to go back to the whole new map you just entered to rescue Thea, but to be thorough I went to the castle town on the other side of the map. Nobody in the town either and the gate to the castle is closed. It seemed to confirm the ruby is for later so I went back to the new world, fighting the constant hordes of random encounters along the way all over again. In the new world I search every corner of the map, which includes multiple new towns Ive never been too all of which are giving me hints on how to get to a place called Techna. It all seems to point to going to some strip of land called the dragon spine and having to encounter some dragon, yet I search every corner of the map and no path to Techna, nor a dragon. This is easier said than done because the encounters can be so frequent than you cant visualize the map because the time you spend looking at the land is so tiny compared to the long battles. So at some point Im feeling desperate and it dawns on me that at the start of the game you are locked in the dungeon of the Landen castle and you escape through a secret passage that leads to behind the counter in a town shop. For the rest of the game its blocked by the shop keeper, but since all the people are gone he would be too. Seems like the kind of thing it would be helpful to leave a hint about. Maybe a villager somewhere could say they heard a rumor theres something/someone in the Landen castle, but anyways... So that must be it, I must have to use that to get into the castle and find some dragon who will help me get to Techna right? Well I battle thru hordes of random encounters to get back to Landen, back to the town, find the shop, and indeed the passage is unblocked. So I go in there and I take the passage up to the stairs into the castle, but the castle is empty just like everywhere else. Annoyed and disheartened I go all the way back to the map Thea was from, battle more endless hordes of encounters searching every inch of the place and again nothing. With no further information on what to do next, I come to the realization I will have to search every map in the game again. I go to the cave to get back to Aridia and I got a few encounters only a second or two apart and it was at that moment my will to continue broke, and I gave up. This was years ago but I remember the exact spot in the cave where it happened. So what do you actually have to do here? Well you know that dungeon passage that leads to the castle? If you go the wrong way instead of taking you to the castle it takes you along a path with a few treasure chests with really basic items that you can get at the start of the game. If at this later part of the game instead of going the path to the castle you go down that path with the empty treasure chests there is also a random girl who wants to fight you at the very end of it and if you beat her she joins your party. Once you have her in your party and you go to the Thea map the dragon appears for you, takes you to Techna, and reveals its actually Thea's dad Lyle. What is the relevance of the new girl and why does she trigger the dragon? No explanations given. Why doesnt Lyle just help you? Theres some kind of apocalypse going on and he would rather just leave you stranded unless some arbitrary condition is fulfilled. At the very least there should be some lazy hint slapped on like "Maybe Lyle will help you if he sees his old friend from Landen".

    When I started replaying the game again recently it didnt take me too long to figure this out. My brain was fresh unlike before when it had just endured half the game's random encounters. I also refreshed my knowledge on the finer details by watching a playthru up to the point where you get Thea. A clear mind processing all the details at once makes it a lot easier to put the pieces together, but even with that advantage I almost walked away from Landen's castle town again. I was a few steps out when the idea hit me to check the dungeon path. Even then I think I had a bit of luck though, because I happened to be curious if there were treasures chests left and went to check. I can see why the first time I played I wouldnt have had the patience to be checking every corner and probably I even had the specific memory of the first time I checked the path at the start of the game and opened all the chests. After that part I breezed thru the 2nd half of the game easily. Every new objective had an obvious hint and because of the encounter rate its impossible to not be overleveled for anything in the 2nd half of the game. The last boss Dark Force was hiding in a treasure chest so I didnt get to heal before fighting him and still easily beat him first try with no items. Not a single party member died/fainted.

    And as crazy as it sounds I then replayed thru the game 3 more times doing the alternate paths/heroes. Im glad I did too, because despite all its flaws theres still a lot to love about this game. Most of the alt paths are just the same game with different parts in different orders, but if you choose the Nial path strangely enough the one part that is entirely omitted is the dragon/techna part. So probably If I had just chosen to marry Lena all those years ago I would have just loved PhS3 and never had any problems besides the encounter rate being high. But that wasnt gonna happen, I cant resist a blue haired babe like Maia lol

    Ive been trying to decide how to rate this game and how to feel about it, but its just something that a number rating will never fully explain. The best summary I can give is that the game is a potent mix of awesome and terrible lol.

    Feel free to share your opinions on the game. Did anyone else remember getting stuck somewhere on their first playthrough?

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingNameless One
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    so from your opinion was this the best phantasy star in the series for the mega drive?

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingNameless One SBlaise84's Avatar
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    I remember having this game as a kid and always got kind of overwhelmed after getting that first cyborg party member. Or maybe when you had to get the boat, I forget exactly.

    The world felt very clinical and empty, and having that high encounter rate really killed my desire to explore. I remember starting this game 3 different times and quitting around the same spot almost every time.

    I've always wanted to go back and beat it because the Generation idea seemed pretty cool, and not something you'd see on the Genesis. I also like the auto battle option in combat, it makes grinding a lot easier.

    I can see why this is the black sheep of the PS family, but its definitely still got its appeal.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert RvR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nano Babe View Post
    so from your opinion was this the best phantasy star in the series for the mega drive?
    I liked it more than 2. 4 is definitely better on the technical side. Im not quite in a position to judge it against 4 overall yet though because I originally stopped playing 4 pretty early in the game because I had just played 3 and was burnt out from it. Not too long ago I picked up 4 again and got a lot farther, but thats actually the reason I went back to 3. As much as I was loving 4 I couldnt stop 3 from creeping into my thoughts and I knew I had unfinished business to settle.
    Last edited by RvR; 05-12-2021 at 01:41 PM.

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    Gold Gamer Goati Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Goati's Avatar
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    2 is my favourite game of all times, but 3 is my second favourite in the series
    I like its character design over the other games. Bless Toyonaka Ozaki. If you see her artworks in the Japanese manual, you will appreciate how the sprites are also chubbier and more rounded when compared to the blocky ones in Phantasy Star II and IV.

    I also liked 3's lore the best: finding tidbits of info from various NPCs was most satisfying. By lore, though, I don't mean setting, story or twists, PSII takes the cake there.

    Surely, it falls short on all matters of polish, but it still owns very hard.
    The generations thing wasn't just unique but also very awesome, strenghtened by Mieu and Wren permaning.
    The dynamic music (overworld and battle themes) was also a big deal at the time, something you would awe at when talking about the game with somebody else.

    A few years back did all 4 endings and am perfectly aware of the game's shortcomings, literally everyone was busy on Sonic the Hedgehog, and PSIII, very ambitious and with an all-new team(except Hiroto Saeki), didn't apparently have the time to push out a polished product: unbalanced enemy progression, disjointed area progression, technique system almost entirely useless, empty buildings, no tileset variety; without Yuji Naka the enemy animations weren't even as good as the first game, let alone the second (where the animation variety, for a march 1989 game, are stupidly good and varied).
    The list goes on but hey, the presentation of the game, the music, the story and lore, the atmosphere above all is what's gonna stay.

    ...Not finding invisible dungeon entrances, though, can be frustrating, yes...


    P.S.: Make sure you check out the PSIII Character Book, which is technically unofficial but was made by Toyo Ozaki and Masaki Segawa: the first made the character design and the artworks you see in the manual, the second one did the back/front box artworks for the game, various illustrations and I think some portraits; he's also known as the author of Basilisk. The two are husband and wife, I believe.
    Check out, particularly, the scene about Wren's Shower Parts...

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    WCPO Agent cabear's Avatar
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    i really only remember part IV, but i know i played part 3 and gave up similarly like you OP. i think i'll go back, can anyone recommend a good patch to help the game play nowadays? any bug fixes or improvement patches to be recommended?

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert RvR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cabear View Post
    i really only remember part IV, but i know i played part 3 and gave up similarly like you OP. i think i'll go back, can anyone recommend a good patch to help the game play nowadays? any bug fixes or improvement patches to be recommended?
    I was actually thinking myself it would be cool if someone fixed the game up with a patch, but I never really looked into it until now. Looks like there are some patches that do some minor tweaks, and one fairly comprehensive patched called the general improvement patch. I was wondering specifically if they fixed the issues I had with the Ayn path and I just found a forum discussion on google that confirms they did fix it. The patch makes Sari sit on the throne of Landen, instead of standing in the far corner of the dungeon path. She is the queen after all. The encounter rate will probably still be brutal though. Here is the patch: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4609/

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    WCPO Agent cabear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RvR View Post
    I was actually thinking myself it would be cool if someone fixed the game up with a patch, but I never really looked into it until now. Looks like there are some patches that do some minor tweaks, and one fairly comprehensive patched called the general improvement patch. I was wondering specifically if they fixed the issues I had with the Ayn path and I just found a forum discussion on google that confirms they did fix it. The patch makes Sari sit on the throne of Landen, instead of standing in the far corner of the dungeon path. She is the queen after all. The encounter rate will probably still be brutal though. Here is the patch: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4609/
    Thanks so much! i saw a few of those patches but didn't really understand what they did so your explanation helps immensely!

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    Gold Gamer Goati Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Goati's Avatar
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    The encounter rate is definitely the most brutal in the series, but I feel it's completely mitigated by the fast combat, when compared to the previous game.
    Let us know if you try the hack! Seems like there's no videos on Youtube and, while it's not my cup of tea, I'd like to see how is the fanfiction content in the way of all the new NPCs and text expansions.

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    Japanese Sonic CD FTW!!! Master of Shinobi Ecco's Avatar
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    Iíve only played through PSIV and I love it but Iím not sure if Iíll play the other titles. They all seem more difficult or complicated etc.

    Maybe Iíll start with the first title someday but I donít think I really want to draw out all the dungeons, what a project lol

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    Having now finished PhS4, while it didnt have the same charm as 3 and the music wasnt as good, I think its still the better game overall.

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    Gold Gamer Goati Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Goati's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecco View Post
    Iíve only played through PSIV and I love it but Iím not sure if Iíll play the other titles. They all seem more difficult or complicated etc.

    Maybe Iíll start with the first title someday but I donít think I really want to draw out all the dungeons, what a project lol
    hey Ecco, you can play the game on the switch with automapping, in case you didn't know: the Sega Ages team, led by Rieko Kodama (original Phantasy Star designer/artist), made a very good port with some extra commodities.

    The second game however might require intense mapping, or you can just grab the hintbook maps online.

    The third game only has a very minimal amount of complex dungeons(still very simple compared to II), most are very simple and don't require any mapping. The overworld maps might get you lost, though, but if you got a good memory you can get by thanks to the Monitor item.

    Twitch partner at twitch.tv/goati_

    I livestream different systems and Japanese exclusives with some language competence.
    Since 2014, though, I carry on the Megamarathon project: beating and documenting every single Mega Drive videogame.
    All regions, unlicensed, unreleased, homebrews...

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